How to make delicious birch sap

Video: Swede Jonna Jinton gathering and enjoying some fresh birch sap.

Birch has played an important role for self-reliant folks throughout the millennia. The birch bark once acted as an important roofing material, and was also used to make waterproof but lightweight canoes, bowls, shelters, baskets, and more. The birch tree also gave firewood, twigs to make brooms, tar (or “Russian oil” to use as a glue, leaves and buds used in folk medicine, and last but not least it provides an abundant supply of birch sap every spring.

Birch sap has traditionally been a source of nutrients in the spring in the boreal and hemiboreal regions of the northern hemisphere. The famous Arab traveller Ahmad ibn Fadlān observed as early as 921 that the Turkish-speaking Bolgars along the Volga River drank fermented birch sap.

A deficiency of food in early spring, in the so called “hunger gap”, was customary in northern Europe until the end of the 19th century so the extra nutrients and sweet taste of sap was a welcome change after a long winter. And in places where water-springs were rare, tree sap was the only drink for herdsmen.

“During the last real famine in Sweden, in 1867, tree-sap was widely used in the southernmost part of Sweden, for bread, gruel and as a mealtime drink. Birch was therefore referred to as the “poor-man’s cow”, according to one record from southern Sweden.” (Uses of tree saps in northern and eastern parts of Europe, p. 345)

Birch sap is collected only at the break of winter and spring when the sap moves intensively, just after the frost has crept out of the ground and before the tree has developed green leaves. In eastern Europe March is called “the month of sap” or “the month of birches”, but in more northern latitudes April is the best time to gather birch sap.

Here’s a quick video showing how Arborist Tage Rønne in Denmark taps birch sap:

Birch S.A.P from Nordic Food Lab on Vimeo.

Basically you drill a hole at angle upwards into the tree. I’ve seen recommendations for a hole between 1-2 cm in diameter and 2-6 cm into the tree depending on the thickness of the tree. You can expect to get 5-10 liters of sap per tree per day.

Tapping a tree does not harm the health of the tree, just make sure you plug the hole when you’re done and don’t drill too many holes in the same tree.

Here’s a lower impact way of tapping sap, from Natural Bushcraft:

Another less invasive way to tap birch sap is to cut the end of a branch where it’s around 1 cm in diameter. This can still yield up to 1 1/2 litres of sap in a day, and when you’re done you can seal the wound with wax or birch tar.

1. Drinking As Is

Collection of birch sap. Photo: R adept (CC BY-SA)

Birch sap is commonly known for its detoxifying, diuretic, cleansing and purifying properties, and can be drinken fresh straight out of the tree.

Cartographer Olaus Magnus mentioned briefly in 1555 that Scandinavians were tapping birch for sap and using it as a fresh drink.

The taste is actually not bad. It tastes like water with a hint of sweetness and birch. But I’ll have to admit, drinking large quantities of birch sap is not my cup of tea.

After a few days the sap will naturally ferment and the taste will become more acidic, but can still be consumed. It’s highly perishable though, and can be preserved for longer periods by freezing, adding sugar or citric acid, or pasteurising it.

Birch sap contains, among other things, 17 amino acids, as well as minerals, enzymes, proteins, antioxidants, sugar (xylitol, fructose and glucose) and vitamins (C and B).

2. Birch Syrup

Kahiltna Gold Birch Syrup from Alaska. You can buy it here.

Birch syrup is produced in the same way as maple syrup; you reduce the water content to concentrate the sugar content. But birch syrup is much more expensive, up to five times the price, because you get less syrup from birch sap.

There’s roughly half as much sugar in birch sap as in maple sap, so compared to maple syrup you need twice as much sap to produce the same amount of syrup.

Depending on the species of birch, location, weather, and season the birch sap will have about a 0.5-2% sugar content. You need about 100-150 liters of sap to produce one liter of syrup.

In commercial production they use reverse osmosis machines and evaporators to get rid of the water. For example in Alaska total production of birch syrup in Alaska is approximately 3,800 liters (1,000 U.S. gallons) per year.

When I’ve made birch syrup though I’ve just carefully boiled the sap. It’s easy to burn the sap though because of the high fructose content, and it takes a long time to get rid of all that water. What you can do to reduce the risk of burning the sap is to first boil off something like 50% of the water and then move it over to a bain-marie / double boiler and get rid of the rest of the water.

Birch syrup is delicious on pancakes, and it’s a fun experiment.

3. Birch Sap Wine

Birch sap wine goes back several hundreds (if not thousands) of years. It’s not harder to make than adding yeast and maybe som sugar to the birch sap and then letting it turn into wine.

The following recipe of birch sap wine is from 1676:

To every Gallon whereof, add a pound of refined Sugar, and boil it about a quarter or half an hour; then set it to cool, and add a very little Yeast to it, and it will ferment, and thereby purge itself from that little dross the Liquor and Sugar can yield: then put it in a Barrel, and add thereto a small proportion of Cinnamon and Mace bruised, about half an ounce of both to ten Gallons; then stop it very close, and about a month after bottle it; and in a few days you will have a most delicate brisk Wine of a flavor like unto Rhenish. Its Spirits are so volatile, that they are apt to break the Bottles, unless placed in a Refrigeratory, and when poured out, it gives a white head in the Glass. This Liquor is not of long duration, unless preserved very cool. Ale brewed of this Juice or Sap, is esteem’d very wholesome. (Vinetum Britannicum, p. 176, London, England 1676.)

Here’s another more modern recipe and some other reflections on making birch sap wine.

4. Birch Beer

Birch beer in its most common form in North America is a carbonated soft drink made from herbal extracts, usually from birch bark, although in the colonial era birch beer was made with herbal extracts of oak bark. It has a taste similar to root beer. There are dozens of brands of birch beer available(check out this taste test).

After the sap is collected, it is distilled to make birch oil. The oil is added to the carbonated drink to give it the distinctive flavor, reminiscent of teaberry

Alcoholic birch beer, in which the birch sap is fermented rather than reduced to an oil, has been known from at least the seventeenth century and was common in northern Europe.

In Sweden birch sap has been used to make ale by mixing it with malt and yeast. A 1749 description from Småland, Sweden, says that the birch sap ale was sometimes flavoured with bog myrtle (Myrica gale L.).

In south-western Finland a kind of ale was made of birch sap mixed with flour and malt.

5. Birch Sap Mead

You usually make mead from water, honey and yeast. To make birch sap mead, just switch the water for birch sap. I haven’t tried birch sap mead, but I’d guess that it adds a hint of birch taste to the mead, as well as some nutrition.

6. Birch Sap Vinegar

All over Europe birch sap has been used to make vinegar. Vinegar comes from the French word vinaigre and means “sour wine.” There are records of birch sap vinegar being made in Sweden, Estonia, Belarus, Hungary and more. I haven’t been able to track down a birch sap vinegar recipe, but you should be able to use this one from Mother Earth News and use birch sap wine as the alcoholic ingredient.

Read More

Use of birch sap

Uses of tree saps in northern and eastern parts of Europe

Birch Sap – Nordic Food Lab

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Tip 1: When to collect and how to drink birch sap

Warm spring days for many people mean,that you can go out of town, get delicious and healthy birch sap. Just outside the city grow birches, which do not suffer from gas pollution and chemicals in the soil, so their juice is considered the cleanest and harmless. However, it must still be properly collected and used.

Instructions

You can start extracting birch sap frommid-March – when the first leaves are blossoming on the trees. In this case it is desirable to periodically make samples, checking how actively the juice flows. To collect it, one should not choose young birch, the juice of which does not have the saturation and authentic taste – but a more adult birch with a barrel thickness of 20 centimeters is ideal for this purpose. Selecting a suitable tree, you need to make a transverse cut in it with a depth of 3-4 cm and with a slight inclination.

To the made notch it is necessary to adhere the plasticcapacity and make a flagellum of gauze, the tip of which will be lowered into a container – on it the juice will flow into its neck unhindered and quickly. After the termination of the decantation, the hole made in the birch should be plugged with a piece of felt so that the tree can tighten its wound. Collected birch sap should be used fresh, since it does not stay in the refrigerator for more than two days. If you want to keep it for a long time – it’s best to give preference to freezing, but in this way a lot of birch juice can not be saved.

Fresh birch sap is a fortifying andtonic drink, with which you can overcome constant drowsiness, lethargy and fatigue, and improve immunity and improve metabolism. In addition, birch sap is ideal for people sitting on different diets or suffering from dysbiosis. Also, birch sap is famous for its diuretic, choleretic, anti-inflammatory and wound-healing properties. It is actively used in cosmetology – to cleanse the problem skin of the face.

The composition of birch juice includes about tenorganic acids, as well as vitamins A, B, C, etc., enzymes, tannins, phytoncides, potassium, sodium, calcium, iron, manganese, magnesium and other microelements necessary for the human body. Due to this, birch sap for its vitamin value is much superior to a variety of pharmacy complexes of vitamins and minerals. You can use it all – both children and adults, both pregnant women and nursing mothers.

Tip 2: Useful properties of birch sap

In the spring, when nature wakes up from winter sleep,and birch buds begin to swell, you can extract and drink useful birch sap. It is customary to collect it by cutting the bark of trees. This drink will strengthen health, give strength, help fight a variety of ailments. Just do not be like the barbarians: after completing the collection, take care of the tree, cover it with clay or a garden vine.

Composition and properties of birch sap

The benefits of birch sap are due to its complexcomposition. It contains minerals and trace elements necessary for the human body, in particular, potassium, iron, manganese, magnesium, copper, calcium, and nickel. Also in birch sap are a lot of vitamins, complex sugars, organic acids, essential oils, tannins, phytoncides. Experts believe that the so-called birch sap is in fact a secret of plant cells that have enormous potential.

“Birch sap”, which is sold in stores, actually has nothing to do with the present. It is a drink made of water, citric acid and sugar, it is not useful.

They have the ability to synthesize effectivebiogenic stimulators, similar to enzymes or hormones. Thus, this liquid with the most complex chemical composition possesses irreplaceable medical functions. In addition, the juice of birch is low in calories, in 100 grams only 22 kilocalories. This allows you to apply it even to those who sit on different kinds of diets.

How to collect birch sap

As already mentioned, you can extract birch sapin early spring. It is necessary not to miss the moment of swelling of the first kidneys. This means that a large amount of juice begins to appear, it actively moves inside the trees. To ensure that the collected drink was not harmful, but useful, it is necessary to go for it to the forest, where there are no roads and industrial enterprises nearby. The fact is that if you collect birch sap in the city or from trees growing along the trails, there will be a lot of heavy metals in it. To drink such juice, of course, is not worth it.The most useful drink is collected from old birches, the trunks of which in thickness exceed 20 centimeters. Young trees have less saturated juice, and the harvest itself can damage them. In general, to take care of the tree, which gives juice, it is necessary to drill a small hole, not deeper than 2-3 centimeters. Do it at an angle of 45 degrees, of course, with a slope down. When the process is over, the wound will be well tightened. The hole should be made from the southern side of the tree, not more than 40-50 centimeters from the ground. Inside insert a tube, you can take a plastic or roll a groove piece of bark. The gutter should be sent to the container for collection. On average, one birch can give about 2 liters of juice per day. But it’s better not to be greedy and collect a liter, otherwise you can ruin a tree. When the juice is finished, it is necessary to tightly seal the wound in the trunk with clay, garden varnish, moss or felt.

Benefits of Birch Juice

Due to its unique composition, birch sapuseful to healthy people, and sick of various ailments. Every day, children and adults can drink it, especially in the spring, during seasonal avitaminosis. As birch sap practically does not contain allergens, it is recommended to drink it in order to strengthen immunity to pregnant and lactating women. And if a woman during pregnancy suffers from swelling, a useful drink will help get rid of them. After all, birch sap is an excellent diuretic. As for the benefits of birch juice for various kinds of ailments, not only naturopaths and traditional healers talk about it, but also traditional medicine specialists. For example, because of pronounced diuretic action, birch juice is indicated in renal failure and kidney diseases in principle.

However, it is not worth drinking if there are stones in the kidneys: you can cause their movement, provoke colic.

Birch juice cleanses blood perfectly, removestoxins and wastes. Therefore, it is good to use when intoxication. For example, in the case of infectious diseases, at high temperature, fever, venereal diseases. Birch-tree’s sleep stimulates digestive secretions rather well. Those who have low acidity, you should drink it a glass three times a day. He basically alleviates the condition of those suffering from gastrointestinal ailments. In addition, birch juice has found application in cosmetology. With its help, tone the skin, strengthen the hair, fight with dandruff.

Recipes based on birch sap

Birch juice can be drunk not only in pure form. There are several excellent recipes based on it. For example, birch kvass. To make it, you need to pour juice into the jar, put sugar at the rate of 2 tsp. per liter, add 3-5 berries of raisins. Then for a few days put in a warm place and allow to slightly wander. When the drink is ready, it can be stored in a cool place 2 or even 3 months. Another recipe based on birch juice – mead. But not traditional, but more simple. It is necessary to add honey to the juice to taste and mix thoroughly. The drink will turn out delicious. In addition, you can experiment by mixing birch juice with a variety of berries.

Tip 3: Birch leaves: useful properties and application

Birch is one of the most poetic trees,growing on the territory of Russia. She composes songs about her, she is the heroine of poems, artists like to do accents on her landscape scenes. In addition to “imagery”, this plant has a very tangible practical benefit. Including, it is widely applied and in medicine.

Betulapendula: where it grows, how to procure

Birch Pendant, and in Latin Betulapendula – soslender and curly called in the official literature. In the European territory it is widespread everywhere, and in the Asian taiga open spaces of Russia it is often encountered. Almost all elements of the tree possess the healing power: roots and leaves, buds and juice, resin and bark. For a long time, scientists could not unravel the secret of bee propolis, which has truly unlimited medical capabilities. As a result, it turned out that bees in spring and summer are collected from different trees, including, and from birches, resinous substances, with which plants protect themselves from diseases. Of these, after some enzymatic treatment, the bees also produce propolis. But now we are talking about the role of leaves, and the spectrum of their therapeutic use is also quite wide. Leaves are best collected during the blossoming period of the birch, that is, when it appears “jewelry” in the form of fluffy earrings. In different places the time is a bit different, but the general period is May-June. All summer and early autumn, too, you can collect and dry them in a dark, well-ventilated place, but the utility of “late” fees will be less.

The main useful components

Apply birch leaf is usually in the broth, forwhich 2 tbsp. l. dry crushed foliage is poured in water (0.5 L) and boiled for 20 minutes. Drink in small doses, “stretching” during the day. A set of useful components of leaves includes phytoncides, carotene, saponins, methyl salicylate, tar, pectins and other substances. Carotene, for example, helps maintain a level of vision, even when working with a computer. A pectin helps normal intestinal motility, improves its peristalsis. Antibacterial substances, which are in abundance here, are very popular with folk medicine and the official ones have long been recognized.

Some details of the application

It is the antibacterial force of the leaves that makes themA powerful tool for treating all kinds of colds. Other ailments that can be cured, ease the course, remove acute manifestations, are atherosclerosis, neurasthenia, gout and rheumatism, various gynecological dysfunctions. Autumn and spring decoctions will be useful for the prevention of these diseases, they will strengthen immunity, and metabolism will help to debug. As a pleasant consequence: the correction of the figure, the fight against excess weight. Successfully use decoctions and infusions of birch leaves as a diuretic, as well as cleansing, expelling toxins, so they have a beneficial effect on the function of the kidneys, liver, and gastrointestinal tract. The external application of healing green is also well known. Birch broom in the bath – an indispensable and unsurpassed means of skin massage and aromatherapy. Home baths from the same leaflets will make the skin clean, smooth without greasy shine, remove pigmentation. The hair after a rinse with a miracle-decoction becomes soft, silky. And on his hands he will help to cope with the manifestations of eczema. With bruises and burns, it is better to attach fresh leaves to the sore spot, but the dried ones, filled with boiling water, will also be suitable.

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1

Check the season. If it’s early spring you can tap your birch. From February until April. Be sure the birch has no leaves yet.

2

Go out and find yourself a nice juicy full grown birch. Ask it if it’s ok if you tap it.

3

Take a branch which is about 1 or 2 cm thick and hangs down, so the weight of the (full) bottle will not break your branch.

4 5

Take your bottle and put the branch in it. Tie the bottle with the wire onto the branch.

6

Check your bottle frequently, depending on the season it takes a day to get a liter of birchsap.

7

If you like you can use more bottles on different trees. You can drink it straight from the tree. It tastes like water with a fruity flavor. Enjoy!

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Kvass from birch juice at home

On ways to collect birch sap, its benefits andWe have already told how to use it. Now let’s talk about what you can cook from it. Birch juice can be preserved, corked in cans for the winter. You can prepare from it alcoholic beverages – braga, moonshine, wine. And you can make kvass from birch sap, which you can drink even for children. This is a traditional Slavic drink. It perfectly quenches thirst and is extremely useful for the work of the food tract and intestines. Doing it is quite simple, much easier and faster than wine or bouquet. There are many options for cooking birch kvass. We will describe several time-proven, reliable recipes for this curative, tasty drink.

Kvass from birch juice with bread – recipe

10 l of birch juice is poured into the container. 200 g of rye breadcrumbs are laid in a pre-prepared tissue bag. The bag is tied with a long string and drops into birch sap. The end of the rope should be on the outside so that you can easily remove the biscuits. The fermentation process usually begins after 48 hours. After that, 100 g of oak bark, 300 g of cherry berries, several dill stems are shredded into the container. All this is covered with a lid. In two weeks birch kvass will be ready.

The recipe of kvass from birch juice

The recipe for birch kvas with yeast

Birch juice of 10 liters heats up inenameled ware to 30-35C. After that, 150 g of fresh pressed yeast are dissolved in it. The container is closed with a lid, left in a cool place for fermentation for 4-5 days. After that, ready kvass can be bottled and canned

Birch kvass with honey and lemon juice

Again, take 10 liters of freshly picked birchjuice. To it is added juice, squeezed out of 4 large lemons. At the same time, 30 g of honey and 50 g of fresh yeast are introduced. Everything is changed and bottled. in each of them it is necessary to put 3 dark raisins. Banks are sealed and sent to a cold place for 3 days. After this period, birch kvass can be drunk.

Birch kvass with barley

Fresh birch juice is poured over cans oroak barrels, which is preferable. In the juice added to taste sugar and a little raisins. Also in each jar you need to put birch chips. It will be enough 3-5 pieces, the size of a match. This is a good way to prevent osseousness of kvass. In a dry frying pan, it is necessary to fry the barley grains to a light brown hue. They also need to be added to the blank for the future kvass in the proportion of 200 g of grain per 10 liters of birch sap. Banks are sealed with lids and sent to a cool place for fermentation. In a few days you can drink a pleasant, sourish, carbonated drink.

Birch kvass with oranges

5 liters of birch sap will need 5 pcs. oranges. The latter must be cut in any way as small as possible. Oranges, 500 grams of sugar, 20 grams of fresh yeast, 10 grams of dry mint, or even better balm – all this is put in a container with birch sap. Stir everything until the sugar and yeast are completely dissolved. The container is covered with a two-layer gauze and left for 12 hours to ferment kvass. After that, the drink is filtered, bottled in cans or bottles. In each need to put a few highs. Stored birch kvass with oranges in a cool place.

How to make kvass from birch sap?

Birch kvass with dried fruits

The taste of this drink can be very different, independing on which dried fruit will be used. Usually it is raisins, dried apricots, prunes, dried apples, pears and even rose hips. Filtered fresh birch sap is bottled in containers. In each it is added dried fruits. You do not need to put sugar or yeast. Capacities are sealed and left in a cold place for several days for fermentation.

It is interesting that kvass from birch juice witheven those who do not like birch sap actually love to drink. But this natural drink is very useful and can become a worthy substitute for compotes and juices in the winter season.

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